Man to be held for psychiatric treatment, denies stabbing fleeing woman

The court heard that an off-duty policeman had been on his way to work before he decided to intervene after hearing a woman scream for help

Court heard that the victim had noticed that the man was holding a knife in his hand
Court heard that the victim had noticed that the man was holding a knife in his hand

A man from Birkirkara is to be held at Mount Carmel Hospital, after he denied charges relating to the stabbing of a woman outside a band club in Birkirkara last month.

The 24-year-old Birkirkara resident, who cannot be named by order of the court, was arraigned before Magistrate Leonard Caruana on Wednesday, accused of attempted grievous bodily harm, causing slight injuries to the woman and assaulting a police officer during the evening of March 20, this year.

Police Inspector Andrew Agius Bonello, prosecuting, explained that an off-duty policeman had been on his way to work when he heard shouts for help coming from the direction of the St Anthony band club in Birkirkara.

Responding to the cries, the officer noticed a woman standing on the club’s front terrace. She said that she had been approached by the defendant, whom she did not know, and had felt threatened by his presence. 

At that point, the woman had noticed that the man was holding a knife in his hand. Deciding to escape, the woman tried to run away, only to be chased down by the defendant, who then tried to stab her in her lower abdomen.  

Providentially, the knife’s blade had snapped upon making contact with the woman’s body and sparing her a penetrating stab wound. Her ordeal was not over, however, because at that point her assailant picked up the broken blade and used it to slash at the woman’s arms and neck, resulting in injuries.

The defendant had also attempted to attack the off-duty police officer when he tried to intervene, but did not succeed. 
After his arrest, the man was taken to Mater Dei Hospital, from where he was involuntarily admitted to Mount Carmel Hospital for psychiatric treatment. He had been rearrested upon being discharged and was taken straight to court to be charged.

The man pleaded not guilty to the charges, his defence lawyer, Malcolm Mifsud explaining to the court that the man had a history of mental health problems and should his bail request be refused, be held in preventive custody at Mount Carmel Hospital, as opposed to the Corradino Correctional Facility.

If released on bail, the defendant would be following a 10-week treatment order at Mount Carmel before being discharged under the supervision of his parents, Mifsud said. 

The lawyer also requested the court impose a ban on the publication of the man’s name on several grounds, amongst them that his mental condition could deteriorate further if he were to be named.

The prosecution objected to the bail request, arguing that although he did not know the victim, the incident had taken place not far from the accused’s home, and posed a risk that he could attempt to tamper with the evidence. 

The man’s unstable mental state also meant that another incident could occur, submitted the prosecution.

Magistrate Caruana, after hearing the submissions from both sides, denied the request for bail, but ordered that the man be held at Mount Carmel Hospital in order to allow him to receive treatment. 

The order for the ban on the publication of the accused’s name was upheld.

Lawyer Manuel Grech from the office of the Attorney General also prosecuted. 

Lawyer Gianluca Cappitta also assisted the accused.